November 16, 2009

The Middlebury football team ended its season with a 26-7 victory at Tufts, closing the year with four straight wins to finish at 5-3. Pounding rain and muddy conditions made maneuvers difficult and forced mistakes from both teams. On the Tufts end, one mistake came early on as a flea-flicker attempt on the first play from scrimmage was intercepted by Middlebury junior defensive back Connor Green (Wellesley, Mass.). Tufts quarterback Tom McManama threw two interceptions while gaining 130 yards on 16 completions with a touchdown.

Late in the first quarter, a pass interference penalty and a personal foul cost the Jumbos serious yardage and gave Middlebury the ball deep in the offensive end. The Panthers seized on the opportunity when junior quarterback Donald McKillop (Poway, Calif.) connected with senior wide receiver Tim Monaghan (Rye, N.Y.) on a 13 yard touchdown pass.

McKillop threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon and has already put his name into the NESCAC record books with single-season records for completions (262), attempts (405), yards (2873), touchdown passes (22), and total offense (2967 yards). He also holds all 10 Middlebury single-season and career passing records as a junior.

At the start of the second quarter, McKillop found senior running back Erik Rostad (York, Maine) sneaking out of the backfield on the left side. Rostad made the catch and scampered 48 yards to put Middlebury up 13-0 after the extra point failed. Rostad caught six balls for 123 yards and the touchdown in the victory, while Monaghan and senior James Millard (Greenwich, Conn.) each caught four balls for 40 yards. With the four receptions, Millard became the single-season receptions leader for the Panthers with 64, surpassing Tom Cleaver, who caught 62 passes in 2004.

The Jumbos were able to capitalize themselves on an opponent's mistake in the third quarter. With just over 10 minutes left, Millard fumbled a punt at his own 33 yard line. The ball was pounced on by Tufts' Austin Crittenden, and the Jumbos didn't take long to cash in. The next play saw McManama complete a 33 yard pass to junior wide receiver Steve Cusano, who leapt into the end zone to put the Jumbos on the board. Cusano caught four balls for 49 yards, while senior Noah Hatfield-Biondo was the only other Jumbo with multiple receptions, grabbing two passes for 20 yards.

A 23-yard pass to junior tight end David Reed (New Canaan, Conn.) and a 15 yard rush for Rostad got Middlebury back into the red zone, and McKillop found first year Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.) in the middle of the end zone on a 13 yard completion to put the Panthers back up by 13 points. Rostad, who added 78 yards on 23 carriers on the ground would go on to punch in a two yard run with 11:30 left in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach from the home team.

The Middlebury defense sacked McManama six times for a loss of 51 yards on the afternoon. Two of those sacks came from senior defensive lineman Taylor Robinson (Summit, N.J.). Senior Eric Kamback (Mahwah, N.J.) had 10 solo tackles and assisted on 10 more to lead the way for the Panthers, tying a school-record with his second 20 tackle performance of the year.

Junior Andrew Poulin (Irvington, N.Y.) had seven solo tackles, which included 3.5 tackles for a loss, and 1 sack that set the Jumbos back 10 yards. Senior Robert Sincerbeaux (Weston, Mass.) also added a sack for an 11 yard loss.
. Football final record: 5-3